East Asia Theater

Nagasaki mayor: 'tangible and present crisis' of nuclear warfare

In official comments on the anniversary of the Aug. 9, 1945 US atomic bombing of the Japanese city, the mayor of Nagasaki sounded a note of alarm. Mayor Tomihisa Taue stated: "In January this year, the leaders of the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China released a joint statement affirming that 'a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.' However, the very next month Russia invaded Ukraine. Threats of using nuclear weapons have been made, sending shivers throughout the globe. The use of nuclear weapons is not a groundless fear but a tangible and present crisis." (Japan Today)

Taiwan expands rights for indigenous peoples

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Aug. 3, speaking at an Indigenous Rights Forum in Taipei held to mark Indigenous Peoples' Day, pledged new measures to protect and promote the languages, cultures and territorial rights of the island nation's Aboriginal communities. Tsai noted that the new Indigenous Peoples Basic Act seeks to bring Taiwanese law and policy into conformity with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and calls for re-assigning the country's place names to reflect Aboriginal languages. Her office has established a Transitional Justice Committee to oversee implementation of the law in collaboration with Aboriginal communities.

China: can authorities contain unrest after Henan protests?

China's banking regulator on July 24 announced that it has opened an investigation into officials at its bureau in Henan province, which this month saw protests by depositors unable to withdraw funds. The China Banking & Insurance Regulatory Commission said a local inspector is suspected of "serious disciplinary violations" concerning fraud and embezzlement at five rural lenders. Several members of a "criminal gang" accused of taking control of the banks have been arrested. The situation turned violent on July 10, after some 1,000 depositors protested outside the People's Bank of China branch in Zhengzhou, demanding access to their savings in frozen accounts. The protesters were assaulted by a group of unidentified men in matching white outfits, as police held back and did not intervene. Video of the incident went viral on social media.

Tiananmen Square: '6-4' and 'Xi Jinping Thought'

In Episode 126 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg marks the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989—"6-4," as it is known in China, or "63+1" or "65-1," in a game of keeping ahead of online censors. With the massacre commemoration first exiled from Beijing to Hong Kong, it has now been exiled from Hong Kong to New York City as police-state measures are extended from the mainland. But China's official denialism about the massacre extends even to the US, where both the sectarian left and "paleoconservatives" echo Beijing's revisionist line. Both regime proponents and detractors share the consensus that the massacre and subsequent wave of repression across China was a "red terror," carried out as it was by a "Communist Party." A case can be made, however, that it was actually a "white terror," enforcing China's capitalist conversion. The recent crackdown on dissident workers and Marxist student activists in China—complete with extrajudicial "disappearances"—reveals "Xi Jinping Thought" to be (like Putinism and Trumpism) an updated variant of fascism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

HK activist jailed under colonial-era 'sedition' law

Pro-democracy activist and popular radio DJ Tam Tak-chi, also known as "Fast Beat," was found guilty April 20 of "seditious speech" and sentenced to 40 months in prison by the Hong Kong District Court. The former vice-chair of the People Power party is the first person since Hong Kong's 1997 handover to stand trial for "sedition" under the Crimes Ordinance dating to the period of British colonial rule. Tam was arrested in July 2020, shortly after China imposed its sweeping National Security Law on the city, and has been in detention ever since, having been denied bail. He was found guilty of using the slogans "Liberate Hong Kong" and "Revolution of our times" at protests between January and July 2020. He was also accused of cursing at the police. Tam said that he would appeal the decision, stating that "my sentencing will affect Hongkongers' freedom of speech." Human Rights Watch senior China researcher Maya Wang stated that Tam's sentence "exemplifies the dizzying speed at which Hong Kong's freedoms are being eroded." (Jurist, HKFP)

Submarine incident in flashpoint Kuril Islands

Amid quickly escalating tensions over Ukraine, Russia has lodged a diplomatic protest with the US embassy in Moscow, claiming that a US nuclear submarine penetrated Russian territorial waters near the Kuril Islands. According to Moscow's Defense Ministry, a Virginia-class US Navy submarine was detected Feb. 12 off Urup Island, where Russia's Pacific Fleet was conducting exercises. The Defense Ministry said the submarine was chased off by Russian vessels, and retreated at "maximum speed." The statement accused the US of a "violation of Russia's state border." The Pentagon issued a statement, saying: "There is no truth to the Russian claims of our operations in their territorial waters." US President Joe Biden and Russia's Vladimir Putin spoke by phone for an hour later that day to discuss Ukraine, but according to the Kremlin the Kurils incident was not brought up. (TASS, Reuters)

'Great Leap Backward' for press freedom in China

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has issued a new report, The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China, revealing the extent of the regime's campaign of repression against the right to information. The report especially examines the deterioration of press freedom in Hong Kong, which was once a world model but has now seen an increasing number of journalists arrested in the name of "national security."

Podcast: China Unbound with Joanna Chiu

In Episode 102 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews Joanna Chiu, author of China Unbound: A New World Disorder, on the precipitous rise of the People's Republic as a world power, and the dilemmas this poses for human rights and democracy around the planet. How can we reconcile the imperatives to resist the globalization of China's police state and to oppose the ugly Sinophobia which is rising in the West, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? Some Chinese dissidents living in exile in the US have even been co-opted by Trumpism. Chiu argues that stigmatization and misinterpretation of Chinese, whether in the People's Republic or the diaspora, plays into the hands of Beijing's propaganda. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

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